Even people who do not think of themselves as adventurous fantasise about giving up their regular life and moving to the other side of the world.
Everybody dreams it, but what is it like to actually do it? Originally from southern NSW, Australia, Ben Stone first came to Bavaria in 2007 before settling in Austria in 2013. During his travels, Ben was searching for a place which could offer him astonishing landscapes and the possibility to achieve his ambition to start a multicultural initiative that could add value to the local community.
With more than a decade of teaching experience, together with co-founder Frank Carle, an energetic educator from the USA, Ben founded The English Teacher Training College and its initiative, ABCi. The College is a multicultural organisation with a clear purpose, as Ben proudly puts it, “to create something that focuses on providing as much as possible for all young people in Austria regardless of their ability to pay for it.”
One big difference between those who succeed and those who flop is how they manage the unexpected. At The English Teacher Training College, Ben managed to create an atmosphere where people roll up their sleeves and tackle any problem they face. Ben says this is, “especially true in the area of community awareness for what an NPO is and in which area it can exist. This is still relatively restricted in the mindset of the general public.”
Ben`s hard work has been rewarded. Projects have poured in from all over Austria but the organisation is always looking for new people who want to join the cause in some way or another. With strong partners in education like the University of Education Upper Austria (PH Oberösterreich), at the five year anniversary mark, the organisation is moving from strength to strength. Today, The English Teacher Training College, continues to raise awareness of their mission to promote the use of English in Austrian classrooms through its initiative, ABCi. It has increased its reach across Austria every year (last school year approximately 70,000 people received a free project). More and more people and organisations continue to join them in their belief that “compulsory education is no place for commercial companies interested in making a profit”.
The Australian community can, of course, get involved by acting as multipliers for communication. Australians from home or abroad who are interested in the ESL industry can join The English Teacher Training College in Austria and its mission. The College offers courses in Teaching English as a Foreign Language and provides projects to the Austrian community. Ben has been helped along the way by word of mouth, by people “who were in a position at work where they could organise some sort of funding for our work here so more Austrians can receive projects like this.”
As for the future, not surprisingly, Ben does not want to stop here and wants to continue “to provide more for free and more advantages for our members.” He believes that the College’s ambitious plan to reach every child in Austria with their free Outreach English Projects “can only be possible through more financial support from public and private organisations.”
Written by Lucian Stefan, Admissions Coordinator